The Sordid History of British Manipulation of American Democracy Series: Read it and weep!
"Psychological Action has nothing to do with the intellect, and everything to do with gut emotions. Having made a list, the next step is to find the right things to say to carefully select groups of voters."
Brian Crozier, Free Agent 1941-1991
The 1975 creation of the Washington Institute for the Study of Conflict, WISC was not the first time British intelligence had directly interfered in a contentious struggle for political power in the United States. London had a direct hand in bringing the U.S. into both World Wars I and II. The British had schooled American OSS agents in the "dark arts" of trickery and deception during World War II, including future Reagan CIA director William Casey who'd served as OSS station chief in London. The post war CIA would be modeled on the political and secret services of the British Empire's notorious East India Company; a company that would so impress banker and former Kennedy/Johnson Under Secretary of State and Bilderberg co-founder George Ball, he recommended it as a model for a world corporate government to replace the obsolete "nation state". The CIA had worked hand in hand with Britain's Information Research Department, IRD to establish the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) and helped to fund Brian Crozier's Institute for the Study of Conflict, ISC. But the WISC represented a new era in British involvement by marking a direct infusion of ultra-right-wing European and British politics into the highest level of Washington thinking without anyone realizing what it was or what it intended to do to American democracy.
The purpose for ISC's founding in 1970, as stated by Crozier in his autobiography Free Agent was "in exposing the fallacies of 'de'tente' and warning the west of the dangers inherent in a policy of illusion"; the illusion being that the West could ever have any peaceful relationship with the Soviet Union. The "Institute" got off to a quick start in the U.S. by forging an alliance with the National Strategy Information Center, NSIC a right-wing neoconservative think tank founded by Frank Barnett, William Casey and Joseph Coors in 1962 and with links to the defense industry's original anti-labor think tank, the American Security Council. ISC's first major triumph came a short time later as a result of a collaboration with the ultra-right-wing Pinay Cercle when Crozier, his prote'ge' Robert Moss and two ISC board members, Sovietologist Robert Conquest and Congress for Cultural Freedom editor Leo Labedz, produced an ISC Special Report attacking the basis for "peaceful co-existence" (and therefore the legitimacy of de'tente with the Soviet Union) called European Security and the Soviet Problem.
The study, financed by the right-wing Pinay group made no bones about its "Soviet problem" actually being the old "Russia problem" that European Imperialists had been hoping to solve since Napoleon's disastrous march on Moscow in 1812. "The present rulers of the Soviet Union are heirs to the Tsar's dominions," it reads on page 1; concluding that "Their foreign policy is thus a hybrid of Great Russian imperialism and Marxist-Leninist ideology." In a development that would have made George Orwell grin, Crozier's team had turned the truth on its head by transforming Soviet calls for peace into a weapon to weaken western resolve thereby "making peace" a new a kind of waging war and anyone who aspired to it as part of a Soviet conspiracy.
Determined to undermine de'tente, the aging right-wing former French Prime Minister, Antoine Pinay was so delighted with Crozier's double-speak he presented the study in person to both President Nixon and Henry Kissinger and by 1975 the group was staged to make their move on Washington. The timing was perfect.
On March 3, 1975, less than two months before the fall of Saigon, the US Committee of the ISC (USISC) was launched which would act as the parent body of the Washington Institute for the Study of Conflict. With the humiliation of Vietnam now a millstone around the neck of the Washington bureaucracy, Crozier and Pinay's extremism no longer looked so extreme. The ISC had been created specifically with CIA backing to give discredited right-wing, anti-Communist and anti-union cliche's in Britain the cover of legitimacy. Or as Edward Herman and Gerry O'Sullivan write in their book The Terrorism Industry, "ISC would provide anti-communist propaganda under the guise of 'independent research' and analysis" based on 'evidence' that came from the files of well-known and discredited right-wing organizations whose material only took on respectability when laundered through ISC."
The ISC's stamp of approval had provoked the British intelligence services to act on their own disinformation and black propaganda to the extent they had plotted to overthrow an elected British government in a military coup and replace it with one to their liking. Now the group that had manufactured that black propaganda for the British military to use, the ISC was establishing an American satellite organization to do the same in the U.S.
Despite the growing public scandal over the CIA's use of Crozier's Forum World Features as a London-based fake news service, Washington's elites were rolling out the red carpet to welcome them and were leaving some British journalists bewildered. Steve Weissman summed up his astonishment in an August 1976 article for London's Embassy Magazine. "Crozier, of course, isn't the only one to be acutely embarrassed by the CIA scandals. But his story touches on what might become one of the more intriguing questions of the entire affair. For even as the [U.S.] Congress was investigating some of Crozier's covert propaganda activities in Latin America, he and his colleagues were helping to set up a new Institute for the Study of Conflict right in the heart of Washington, D.C. And among the Americans involved with him in this highly suspect intervention into the American political scene are two of the most likely candidates [George Ball and Zbigniew Brzezinski] to serve as the next Secretary of State."
Under the Chairmanship of Ball, WISC appeared a veritable who's who of high-level ex-CIA, neoconservative and right-wing influencers bent on striking back at the Soviet Union for their humiliation in Vietnam. Senator John McCain's father, the Admiral John S. McCain Junior, recent Commander in Chief of US Pacific Forces (CINCPAC) and a board member of the Military/Industrial think tank American Security Council had worked closely with ISC to get the WISC off the ground. Rhodes Scholar and NSIC President Frank Barnett was another committee member with long held ties to hardline neoconservative organizations such as the Smith Richardson Foundation and American Security Council. Kermit Roosevelt, high level CIA officer who'd staged the 1953 coup in Iran that overthrew the duly elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh and senior CIA officer Robert W. Komer architect of the U.S. government's notorious Phoenix Program in Vietnam. From Georgetown University came WISC's first President James Theberge, who's two books on Soviet influence in the Caribbean -- helped provide the pretexts for overthrowing Chile's legitimately elected leftist president Salvador Allende. And then there was Richard Pipes, the virulently anti-Soviet history professor from Harvard University, who would soon be hand-picked for his political bias to lead a radical right-wing, neoconservative attack on the CIA known as Team B. Using the ISC's methodology of fabricated threats and disinformation to win over intelligence elites at the CIA, Team B was at first seen by some inside the agency for what it was: "[A]n ideological, political foray, not an intellectual exercise. We knew the people who were pleading for it;" said one intelligence professional. Acquiesced to by then CIA director George Bush, in retrospect Team B's politicized challenge to the CIA's authority is viewed by many as the central mistake that permanently crippled the agency's effectiveness. In the words of Lawrence J. Korb, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1985, Pipes and the Team B were the real reason for the intelligence failures represented by 9/11 because they were "hard-liners who created the concept out of an unwillingness to accept the unbiased and balanced judgments of intelligence professionals."
But in the end the Team B gained friends and influence inside the broader intelligence and defense community and with the appointment of fellow WISC member Zbigniew Brzezinski as President Carter's national security advisor, British intelligence agent Brian Crozier's plan to infiltrate and subvert the de'tente process with the Soviet Union was complete.
That is not to say Brian Crozier was at all happy with the election of Jimmy Carter. He writes in his autobiography Free Agent, "Although fundamentally pro-American, I was explicitly and actively anti-Carter. Not only had I attacked Jimmy Carter's policies in my National Review and Now! columns and elsewhere, but I had also provided anti-Carter material to other journalists, American as well as British."
Crozier believed the Carter election would only worsen "the self-emasculation of American intelligence". His belief "[T]hat the entire security apparatus of the United States was in a state of near collapse," provoked yet another move to interfere in American politics, but this time beyond disinformation and black propaganda and into directed action. "The question was whether something could be done in the private sector -- not only in Britain, but in the United States and other countries of the Western Alliance." He writes in his autobiography. "A few of us had been exchanging views, and decided that action was indeed possible. I took the initiative by convening a very small and very secret meeting in London."
Crozier's secret meeting in "the luxurious executive suite of a leading City of London bank on the morning of Sunday 13 February 1977" would produce a secret off-the books "Private Sector Intelligence agency, beholden to no government, but at the disposal of allied or friendly governments for certain tasks which, for one reason or another, they were no longer able to tackle"" including "[S]ecret counter-subversion operations in any country in which such actions were deemed feasible."